In response to my first post, my brother, Mike, emailed me this comment, “Nice job Liz! Except give cheese a break, it has feelings too.” Of course this made me laugh, but it also made me think.
It’s hard for me to give cheese a break. Maybe it’s because the only way I was able to cope with giving up this once-loved food was to develop a passionate hatred for it. Or maybe it’s because when I look at cheese, I picture one of those horrible bikini-gone-wrong tabloid pictures. Or maybe, it’s just because cheese really is gross (Sorry, cheese!). Whatever the reason, Mike is right, at least partially.
I don’t think I can give cheese a break, but I can definitely give cheese-lovers a break and meat-lovers, too. MORE is for everyone.
It’s okay if you’re a vegan who can’t bear to give up her cowboy boots (me!), or a vegan who sometimes eats cheese, or a vegetarian who sneaks a cheeseburger once in a while. It’s even okay if you’re a meat and cheese-loving ‘merican who just wants to eat a vegan meal once in a while to be healthier, to reduce his carbon footprint, or to live a little bit MORE.
No matter the extent of your commitment to going vegan, I applaud your choice. It’s not a choice many people make because doing something different than what you’ve always done is scary. Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered with my top 3 tips for stress-free vegan cooking. Get ready, 2014 is going to be a year of MORE.
1. Stock Up on the “Weird” Ingredients
When I first went vegan, I wasted a lot of time and a lot of money. Somehow I would end up wandering around Whole Foods searching for random ingredients only to emerge hours later, exasperated, broke, and often still missing ingredients. Before I even started the actual cooking process, I was frustrated and stressed.
To combat this common pitfall, set aside one day every month or so to go to a health food store with a bulk section and stock up on all the “weird” vegan ingredients there. This will allow you to do your daily and weekly shopping at your local grocery store.
You’ll want to buy:
- nutritional yeast
- vital wheat gluten
- quinoa (Most grocery stores carry this now, but a health food store is going to have better choices and buying in bulk is less expensive.)
- raw cashews (You’ll mostly be blending these up, so just get the pieces since they’re cheaper.)
- tofu and tempeh (If your local grocery store still doesn’t carry these, buy them now, but check the date as they won’t last as long as the other items on this list.)
If you’re gluten-free, you’ll probably also want to buy:
- Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
- Xanthan Gum
I promise that this trip is going to make your vegan cooking adventures SO MUCH EASIER! Before you go, check the status of your spices. If you’re running low on any, you can save a lot of money by replenishing them with spices from the bulk section rather than buying a brand new container at a regular grocery store.
2. Keep it Simple
Vegan cooking is fun. It’s exciting to try new recipes and prepare food in ways that you may have not considered before. However, don’t let the process overwhelm you. Keep it simple.
There’s no need to prepare a tofu scramble every morning for breakfast; an apple and a slice of toast with peanut butter will do just fine. For dinner, make a salad or a simple stir-fry. You don’t have to make an elaborate vegan dish everyday now that you’re vegan.
Remember, a lot of what you already eat is naturally vegan. So as you’re getting started, look at your current diet and notice the foods that you can keep on eating. Think about foods you like that are low or no prep that you might want to eat more of like almonds, carrots, or or my favorite snack, sliced green peppers. For the foods you won’t be eating anymore like cheese, think of what would be an easy substitute. Perhaps hummus?
Then, set a goal for yourself to try one new vegan recipe a week. Start by mastering a tofu recipe, a tempeh recipe, and chickpea cutlets. With these recipes under your belt, you’ll be feeling satisfied and motivated to try some more exciting recipes that will really impress your friends!
3. Enjoy It
You’re doing something good for yourself, good for animals, and good for the environment. Think about that as you snack and it’s sure to bring a smile to your face. Sure, you might be doing more chopping than you’re accustomed too, but you’re chopping with a purpose now! Live MORE.